On "Troop Redeployment"
Although a swift and total departure would, in many ways, be desirable, both Minstrel Boy of Harp and Sword and I have commented on the historically well-documented potential of full-scale withdrawals for wholesale slaughter of the retreating troops. The idea that technology, force size, or any combination of those and other factors can materially affect what is evidently a persistent military phenomenon is dangerous when operationalized as the extent and substance of an overall exit strategy.
It was the neo-conservatives who believed that they could get away with and be successful in defying the body of war knowledge and the grave advice of the prosecutors of war, and they have been proven disastrously wrong. That is a cautionary tale for any military planner of any stripe in considering the odds of having military history not rear its obstinate head in a modern armed conflict.
As random, capricious, and senseless as war seems, it is a process subject to laws, principles, axioms, and theorems that are, in any given nation in any given era, at best only partially understood. To dispense with the precious shards of genuine near-certitude we possess is to walk a road to ruinor, more to the point, to run a highway of redeployment to wreckage.
Full-scale retreatand that's what we're talking about hereis very likely to result in a swift, appalling loss of life, both to American soldiers running the killing box corridors out of Iraq and to large numbers of non-combatants in the path of their flight.
Troops can withdraw in an orderly manner; but when they begin to panic under hit-and-run raid after bloody, hit-and-run raid upon their flanks and rearespecially with so many new American boots being pushed into the Iraqi sands by Mr. Bush's new "surge and accelerate" planpanic will blow in, and that will set the stage for the bloodbath of a rout. Order and discipline evaporate into the overwhelming heat of desperation for survival, and the shattering columns become so many individuals waiting their turns to die, even as they furiously, then blindly, spray the land and sky with what remains of their ordnance.
No, we will not bug out of Iraq. The same generals who are now being set aside by Mr. Bush because they diplomatically tried to disabuse him of his "New Way Forward" initiative would have been the commanders steadfastly rejecting a wholesale pull-out of American troops, and such stance would have had nothing to do with the consequential fate of the people of Iraq, but rather with the American soldiers, whose security and safety take precedence over local concerns in matters of troop movements.
Mr. Bush is going to get his wish: we'll stay; and for now, not only will we stay, but he will escalate this American-Iraqi War.
And the Democrats will not cut off funding for the war. They're not quite so naïve, knowing as they do that, if they were to deny funds for military operations in Iraq, the very first people to suffer would be the GIs on the ground there. Right now, the Commander-in-Chief has lost the support of the soldiers, and that is extraordinary. But if that same Commander-in-Chief, a man given to straw man arguments anyway, is handed a rallying cry that his hands have been tied by the Democrats, those same troops who now disrespect him will turn ugly really fast, and their wrath will not be directed at their leader, but instead at the politicians who were obviously responsible for taking away their bullets and chow.
But far, far worse than that prospect is this: take away materiel and even food from a massive, in-field force of soldiers, and that force could easily, in the virtual blink of a news cycle, turn into the single most frightening beast that nature can muster from the howling depths of humanity at its worst. Strangle the Pentagon, and the Pentagon will pass the garrote right down to the GIs cooking in their miserable tents. Make those troops suffer like that and watch them turn into one giant pack of starving wolves. You want atrocities? You haven't seen atrocities like those committed by trained, desperate men with rifles and knives.
No, we'll stay in Iraq. We'll stay until we're bloodied beyond recognition of our hubris, beyond recognition of our preeminence, beyond recognition of our once unquestioned status as the leader of the free world; and then we shall leave. We shall leave, not when we want to, not when we need to, not when we've had enough, but instead when we are no longer relevant to the history of the future of Iraq and perhaps no longer greatly relevant even to the history of the future of places far from that awful land.
We may then come home to do our soul searching, our national finger-pointing, and our collective denial of that which we did and that which we would have done again were this not to have been our death knell as Empire.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.